June 2, 2011 / 9:21 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Oil firm files lawsuit against Arctic protesters

* Cairn seeks fines of 2 mln euros/day as deterrent

* Greenpeace involved in campaign to halt Arctic drilling

* Cairn hopes to open up multibillion barrel oil province (Updates with Cairn statement)

By Tom Bergin

LONDON, June 2 (Reuters) - UK-based Cairn Energy (CNE.L) has filed a legal action in the Netherlands, seeking fines of up to 2 million euros a day ($2.9 million) if Greenpeace protesters again disrupt the explorer’s drilling plans offshore Greenland.

A Cairn spokesman said on Thursday the action was intended as a deterrent after Greenpeace ended a four-day protest which involved protesters hanging suspended from a drilling rig in a plastic pod.

It was also intended “to ensure the safety of those involved in its operations,” Cairn said in a statement.

Last year, Greenpeace activists also launched similar action against a Cairn rig offshore Greenland.

Cairn is leading a charge into offshore Greenland, which explorers believe could hold billions of barrels of oil. Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), Husky Energy (HSE.TO) and others also plan to drill there.

Earlier on Thursday, the Danish navy removed the Greenpeace protesters from the semi-submersible drilling vessel, the Leiv Eiriksson, owned by Ocean Rig OCRG.NFF.

    Greenpeace said in a Web posting that it had delayed drilling, which must occur within a narrow window due to harsh weather in the Arctic region, but Cairn denied this.

    A Cairn spokesman said there had been “no impact on schedule.”

    Cairn said such protests could cost it $4 million a day.

    Following BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, concern about the difficulty in tackling offshore spills has increased and environmental campaigners have made Arctic drilling a key battleground.

    The track record of companies suing protest groups is a chequered one, with court action often serving to garner publicity and sympathy for the campaigners.

    Cairn’s shares closed down 2.8 percent, lagging a 2.0 percent drop in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index. .SXEP ($1 = 0.6900 euro) (Reporting by Tom Bergin, +44 207 542 1029; Editing by Jane Merriman, Erica Billingham and Matthew Lewis)

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